Preaspiration and tonal accents as Northern Gaelic features

Reconsidering contact origins

July 16, 2015

15th International Congress of Celtic Studies, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland

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Categories:  Scottish Gaelic Prosody North Germanic Language contact

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I argue that the origin of both pitch accents and preaspiration in Gaelic is best understood in the context of a ‘Northern Gaelic’ area covering Ulster and Scotland, as opposed to Connacht and Munster. Within this area, both preaspiration and pitch accents show the classic pattern of peripheral archaisms, with Lewis and West Ulster as remnant areas and Argyll as the most innovative zone. This suggests that the stronger Norse presence in the Hebrides does not correlate with a denser distribution of potential contact features, and thus the developments in both cases need not have been triggered by contact — even though a reinforcing role for contact is very difficult (and probably undesirable) to exclude.

The handout is slightly more detailed than the slides. Note that the file is quite large because of the maps.

About me

I’m Pavel Iosad, and I’m a Senior Lecturer in the department of Linguistics and English Language at the University of Edinburgh. ¶ You can always go to the start page to learn more.



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